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Full text of "The Gay Genius"

EXPERIMENT IN STATE CAPITALISM            81

be asked to pay an interest oŁ twenty per cent, which they will pay
together with the capital during the collection of the summer and
autumn taxes. People who wish to repay the loans in cash in place
of grain may be permitted to do so. In case of natural calamities, they
may be permitted to delay the repayment until a good year comes.
Thus not only will the people be able to tide over famine and drought,
but through thesp loans they will be spared the necessity of borrowing
from the rich exploiters at double interest before their harvest is in.
Besides, the stocks of wheat and grain are now usually kept in the
price equalisation granaries for a long time and sold to the people only
when the prices have gone up, and this system benefits only the idle
rich who live in the cities. It is proposed now that such sales and
purchases be organised and unified within each province, so that price
-stabilisation may be better carried out and the farmers enabled to plant
their farms without being exploited. All this is for the benefit of the
people and without profits to the government. It is in accordance with
the principles of the ancient kings in giving money to the people and
assisting the farmers."

How such a beautiful and innocent plan turned out to harass and
destroy the lives and homes of the farmers for whose benefit it was
conceived, we shall see later. It should be explained, however, that this
new measure started as a continuation of the old system of the price
equalisation granaries and gradually replaced it. From the very begin-
ning of this dynasty, such granaries had been maintained in different
districts by the government to stabilise the price of grains. In years of
good crops, when low prices hit the farmers hard, the government
bought up the surplus wheat and rice. Conversely, in bad years, when
the prices of grain went up, the agencies poured the grain into the
market to force the prices down. It is true that the agencies were not
always kept up to their highest efficiency, for many officials did not
bother to buy up grain when it was cheap. But even in 1066 the
published figures of the price equalisation granaries showed that they
had bought from the people 5,014,180 bushels of grain and sold 4,711,570
bushels during that year. Now, when the money and stocks of the
granaries were used as capital for the farmers* loans, the normal opera-
tions of the granaries were naturally stopped.

The heart of the matter was that the subscription of the loans
inevitably became compulsory. Intolerant of opposition, Wang Anshih
had to succeed. He had to show the Emperor that the loans were a
great success and were welcomed by the people. He would not hear of
slackness in selling them. He could not understand why the farmers
should not want the loans, and when loans were not sold up to the
- quota, he flew into a rage. He began to promote officials who showed
a good record, and to punish the slackers. As each official was looking